A Reject’s Lessons Learned
In the writing world, rejections are so common that Dictionary.com uses “The publisher rejected the author’s latest novel.” as an example for how to properly use “reject” in a sentence. In other words, if you want to be a writer, you have to learn to handle—or at least live with—rejections.
It took me a long time. I wanted people, specifically people in the publishing world, to love my stories and characters as much as I did. They didn’t.
The thing is, I’m stubborn, but for the most part open minded. I will keep banging my head against the wall, but I’ll also listen to anyone suggesting a better location on which to smack my forehead, or a better method of walloping my head against hard objects.
I finally sold my first book just last month. This particular book was rejected forty-seven (47!) times by editor and agents. I had fifteen full requests that ultimately ended in rejection. (I blogged about the whole crazy journey on my personal site.)
It is the third book I’ve finished, and queried the heck out of those two other books as well. So yes, I’m familiar with rejection. I also know that there are good rejections, the kind that teach you something new, or give you invaluable advice on how to better position your book in the market.
VALHALL’S KING, my debut book, will be released sometime late summer or early fall of 2015. I’ve rewritten the manuscript twice since I first queried the book. Those edits were all based on great feedback from editor and agents. I learned from their comments and am forever grateful that they took the time not only to read my work, but to say what they thought about it and suggest how I could make it better.
You think think that I just started the query process to quickly, maybe I did, but I my first pitch was after the project placed second in On the Far Side, The Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal RWA chapter’s contest for unpublished writers. The editor judging the contest thought it was publication worthy, but rejected it because of a pet peeve. She didn’t like mythology mixed with Sci-Fi. So I figured I would find another editor that wouldn’t mind those elements of the story and I did, but it took two years and loads of more rejections.
I don’t like rejections—who does—but they are part of a writer’s life and the only way for me to live with them is to turn them into something useful. Cheryl’s Lesson’s from a Saleswoman posted earlier this month are an excellent way to learn how to do just that. My hardest lesson was #3: Reflection and Introspection. It’s easy to get carried away and give too much weight to all rejections. When I first started pursuing publication, I didn’t have enough confident in my own writing voice. I listened to every critique partner and every rejection, trying to incorporate their advice. Guess what happened when I received conflicting comments? I had a complete meltdown. It took some time, but I finally learned to listen to all feedback, but only use what resonates with where I want to take the story.
That said, I still have what I refer to as “I may freely address you as piss midget” moments when my inbox is showered with nos. The name comes from Dylan Moran’s character Bernard Black, a frustrated novelist and the owner of Black Books. Here’s one of Bernard’s rejection moments. Mine can look like this, minus the smoking.:-)
What’s the best rejection you’ve ever received?